Which Red Sox players should make the All-Star team?
posted at 7/3/2013 11:31 AM EDT
With less than a week before we know the All-Star rosters, let's offer both our predictions on which Red Sox players will make the squad, as well as our opinions on which Red Sox players should make the team.
David Ortiz will clearly get voted in as the starting DH, and he definitely deserves it, so that's at least one All-Star. After him, it gets trickier and more debatable.
I won't address C or 1B because both of those positions have plenty of candidates from other teams more likely to earn spots than anyone on the Red Sox, although Saltalamacchia is closer to being on the bubble than many might think.
Robinson Cano will be voted in as the starting 2B, and Jason Kipnis of the Cleveland Indians has been having a better overall offensive year than Pedroia, but hasn't been Pedroia's defensive equal. Howie Kendrick has been pretty good too, ranking close to Pedroia in nearly every offensive category. There are basically four All-Star worthy second basemen for three probable spots. The Red Sox are doing better than the Angels as a team, and Pedroia has the defensive advantage over everybody. Verdict: Pedroia makes it and should make it.
Shortstop is a weak position this year in the American League with only two somewhat worthy choices in Jed Lowrie of the A's and Jhonny Peralta of the Tigers. Maybe JJ Hardy of the Orioles deserves consideration for his power numbers, although his OBP is horrendous. As much as I would love to see Jose Iglesias on the All-Star team, he only has 135 AB, whereas a lot of these other guys have more than double that number. He's also appeared more at third base than shortstop, and third base is loaded with deserving All-Star candidates: Miguel Cabrera, Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson, Evan Longoria, Adrian Beltre, etc. Verdict: Iglesias does not make it, nor should he make it. If I'm Jim Leyland, I take four thirdbasemen, knowing that Machado can also play shortstop.
I envision about seven outfielders making the All-Star team. Nelson Cruz, Adam Jones, Jose Bautista, and Mike Trout will occupy four of those spots. After them, there are several worthy candidates, including Daniel Nava (2nd in OBP, 4th in OPS, 5th in RBI, 7th in AVG, 7th in HR) and Jacoby Ellsbury (1st in SB, 3rd in hits, 3rd in AVG, 5th in OBP, 5th in runs). Another guy who appears a lot in the top 5 is Coco Crisp, so I think he'll earn a spot too. Am I too much of a Red Sox homer to think both Nava and Ellsbury can make the All-Star team? Verdict: Ellsbury makes it, Nava is one of the final spot candidates. If I could only choose one of them, I'd want to see Nava get there because realistically he'll never get another shot, whereas Ellsbury is more of a perennial All-Star contender. Unfortunately for Nava, Ellsbury is the bigger name of the two and more likely to be voted in by his peers.
On the pitching side, it's a fairly easy choice. I know Buchholz has missed a lot of time due to injury, but he's still only about 30 innings (~4 starts) removed from the IP leaders with a 9-0 record, 1.71 ERA, .195 BAA. I can't ignore those numbers. Also, Buchholz would be a free pick in the sense that he'd be replaced due to injury. In other words, he can receive an All-Star nod and still not prevent someone else from getting one. I think he makes it as the best pitcher (statistically) on the league's best team. Another guy who might now merit some consideration is John Lackey, but his chances are remote at best because despite his outstanding numbers, he only ranks top 10 in one category (6th in ERA) and the mediocre record (6-5) will hold him back. Plus, there are so many other deserving pitchers this year. Verdict: Buccholz makes it and gets replaced.
In summation, when all is said and done, the Red Sox will have five All-Stars, four of them active: David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Daniel Nava, and Clay Buchholz. Nava will get voted in as the last man on the roster or as an injury replacement. He's too good a story for MLB to not find a way to get him onto the team, and I can't imagine the Red Sox with the best record in the AL only having two All-Stars.
The team that I think will have the most active roster All-Stars is the Oakland A's: Jed Lowrie, Josh Donaldson, Coco Crisp, Bartolo Colon, Grant Balfour.